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Opinion: Peres answers half of the dilemma of Arafat's death
Published Friday 11/01/2013 (updated) 13/01/2013 10:44
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Though his response is not an official confirmation that Israel was involved in the murder of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, Israeli president Shimon Peres did not deny that the late Palestinian leader was assassinated when asked during a New York Times interview whether he thought the leader "should be assassinated."

On November 27, 2012, the body of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat was exhumed in an investigation to establish if he was murdered by Israeli agents using the hard-to-trace radioactive poison, Polonium.

The decision to open the grave came after the Lausanne Hospital in Switzerland said in August 2012 that high levels of polonium were discovered on Arafat's clothes, supplied by his widow Suha for a television documentary.

Since Arafat's death, debate has raged about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his demise, with many Palestinians pointing the finger at Israel, which confined Arafat to his headquarters in Ramallah for the final two and a half years of his life after a Palestinian uprising erupted.

Other explanations have been put forward, with some Israeli officials suggesting he was killed by rival Palestinian factions, or even succumbed to AIDS.

In the recent interview with the New York Times, Israeli president Shimon Peres said he opposed Israel's policy of targeted assassinations as a weapon to achieve political goals. The interviewer, Ronen Bergman, an analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, highlighted that Peres had opposed Israel's assassination of the PLO's number two leader Khalil al-Wazir (known as Abu Jihad) in Tunis in 1988.

He had also opposed the assassination of Hamas' founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yasin by an airstrike in 2004, Bergman said, and protected Arafat from assassination plots.

During the interview, Peres, though he is about to enter his 90s, was smart enough to tell Bergman he was "asking foolish questions" when quizzed about what attitude Israel should adopt toward the Arab Spring.

After a few questions about the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza and the aftermath, the interviewer asked him: "You didn't think that Arafat should be assassinated."

Peres, immediately answered "no," going on to say: "I thought it was possible to do business with him. Without him, it was much more complicated. With who else could we have closed the Oslo deal? With who else could we have reached the Hebron agreement?"

The fact that Peres did not comment on the assumptions of the question in the first place implies that either he failed to notice how tricky the question was or believed, somehow, that Israeli agents were involved in the murder of Arafat.

In English grammar, the modal "should" means advisability. Some readers may have understood the interviewer's question as a general one, without assigning blame to any party. In other words, Peres could have understood the question as whether it would have been better if Arafat was not assassinated by those who did assassinate him, without mentioning Israel. Fine, that may be clever.

However, one has to also agree that his answer confirmed the implied assumption that Arafat was indeed assassinated.

He could, after all, have challenged his interviewer to stop asking foolish questions as before, or at least have denied that Arafat was assassinated and firmly stated that Israel had nothing to do with it. He did neither.

Peres, nor any other Israeli leader, would ever publicly confess that Israel had anything to do with Arafat's end, even if forensic tests prove that he was killed by polonium.

The Israeli president, however, at least seems to have given an answer to one important half of the dilemma, when he failed to deny that Arafat was in fact, assassinated.
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1 ) JoeUSA / USA
11/01/2013 21:33
Polonium comes from nuclear reactors. Israel has Dimona. Israel had the means to posion Arafat with Polonium. When you posses the means , the know how , the motive and the infrastructure and history ( experience) to assasinate. Israel is the prime suspect. How the poison entered Arafat's complex is the surprising question. Did anyone assist Israel in its efforts. All those questions need answers.

2 ) BubbaUSA / USA
11/01/2013 23:48
The first, and the most important, question in any criminal investigation is: WHAT IS THE MOTIVE? I submit to you, "JoeUSA", that Israel did not have any motive to kill the Old Man. Israeli intelligence knew, I'm sure, that Arafat was at the final stage of his lifecycle and that his time on Earth was limited. So, what was Israel to gain from killing Arafat? Let's wait and hear from scientists about their findings before jumping to stupid conclusions.

3 ) Tim Dymond / Australia
12/01/2013 00:46
I think you are misinterpreting this part of the interview. The question about Arafat is part of a discussion of the assassination policy generally. Peres answers the question about whether during the course of Arafat's whole career he was a candidate for assassination. Peres says no and refers to events such as signing Oslo, which clearly wouldn't have happened if Arafat had been assassinated in say the 1970s. That isn't the same as saying Arafat's actual death is from assassination.

4 ) gabi / australia
12/01/2013 01:39
Israel has always been the prime suspect, from the very beginning. And aren't they idiots for getting rid of the man who could have negotiated a settlement, not a popular one, but a settlement. And maybe that was Israel's concern - didn't want to deal with such a pragmatist. But rather to continue with taking all the land. And using "we don't deal with terrorists" as an excuse. Which raises the question - just who are the terrorists? Arafat said no to violence, the settlers increased theirs.

5 ) A. Summers / Canada
12/01/2013 05:02
Another part of the answer may be found in Israel's decision to admit last fall for the first time that Israel did in fact assassinate Abu Jihad. The admission came at the same time that the decision to exhume Arafat's body was confirmed. For a country so very attuned to international public relations (Hasbara) it should not escape notice that having admitted to one assassination could be seen as a useful preamble to the shocking confirmation of its having indeed killed Arafat.

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/01/2013 08:17
I think more solid evidence is going to need to be produced than this. About all Peres' answer implies is that he may have been party to discussions at which the possibility of assassination was discussed.

7 ) johnny benson / usa
12/01/2013 19:48
arafat was contained.....virtully in a prison.he was old and feeble..why kill him?

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
13/01/2013 01:04
To johnny Benson #7 '..why kill him?' Because killing is good. This is Israel we're talking about. Most of her acts of violence actually make no sense and certainly don't benefit her. The correct question would be what would KEEP her from killing Arafat?

9 ) Mark / USA
13/01/2013 09:42
I don't think that Obama "should" have dumped Osama in the ocean. Interpret that.

10 ) gabi / australia
14/01/2013 02:19
# 9 - "I don't think Obama "should" have dumped Osama in the ocean. Interpret that." Sorry, but I can't. Is it important?

11 ) Ben R / US
16/01/2013 22:31
I think dissecting the semantics of of Peres answer in this way is a real stretch.

12 ) firat / ......
17/01/2013 22:32
he was bragging.which is usuals of peres
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